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Mysteries of Mind

By Swami Sivananda

1. Ways of Mind Differ

Though objects are similar, the ways of mind are different according to the difference in minds.


The minds are different. The way in which the objects affect the mind, and the way in which the mind is affected by them are entirely different. Desires also vary according to different minds. One mind wants money. Another mind wants power, name and fame. Another mind wants woman. Another mind runs after knowledge and spiritual pursuits. Different Bhavas are formed by different men with reference to one and the same object on account of previous Samskaras and difference in the degree of the qualities Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in their minds.

2. Mind and Perception

Nor are objects the dependent of a single mind. Because what would become of (objects) if (they are) not cognised by that mind?


If an object were dependent upon the mind, then in case the mind were restrained or attending to some other object, the object would not be touched thereby, nor would it come into objective relationship with any other mind. It would not be cognised by any other mind. Will it cease to exist at the time? Or coming into relationship again with the mind whence would it come back to life? Whence is the object produced? If from the perceiving agent, whether it is one mind that produces the object or many? If one, the existence of an object thought of in a moment preceding the thought of another object, cannot be possible. This is not the case; because even when my mind has stopped to think of an object, it is quite possible for the mind of Mr. Johnson or Mr. Alfred to think of the very same object at any subsequent time. I can also recognise the very same object when I again think of the same object. Therefore, objects cannot be said to be the result of the cognising agent. Further the parts of an object which are not in contact with the mind would not exist. Thus there would be no back, and how could then there be the front itself? For this reason, the object is self-dependent and common to all the Purushas. Mind also is self-dependent. Mind comes into relationship with the Purusha. Perception is attained by its contact with the Purusha.

3. Mind Is Coloured by Objects

Since the mind is required to be coloured thereby (by objects), the objects are known or unknown.


Objects are like magnet. They attract the mind and produce lust, anger, etc., in the mind. The mind by itself is free from lust, anger, etc. The mind is like iron. The objects colour the mind and induce Vikara and change. Colouring of the mind is further explained in the theory of perception in Sutra IV-16.

4. Purusha Knows All Modifications

The modifications of mind are always known to its Lord (Purusha), due to His unchanging nature.


Mind is an instrument for the sensations of pleasure and pain. Its chief function is to grasp the Vishayas. Grasping of things means, mind becomes modified by assuming the forms of the objects. It attains Parinama. Purusha has no Parinama or change. Purusha is superior to mind. He is separate from mind. Hence He is called 'the Lord'. Purusha is the ever-present witness of the mind. If the Purusha also is of changing nature like mind, He will also share the same fate as that of objects. Purusha is not an object of Vishaya by the mind. The consciousness is never suspended nor modified even for a second. Therefore, the unchanging Purusha exists. The modifications of the mind are, therefore, always known to the Purusha, its Lord. By this the unchangeable nature of the Purusha is inferred.

5. Mind Is Not Self-luminous

The mind is not self-luminous, because it is the knowable.


The sun does not shine there, nor the moon nor stars, nor the lightning; then what to speak of this little fire? It shines by Itself and illuminates every thing. Its light illuminates all these. (Katha Upanishad.)

Mind is Jada or insentient, but it appears to be luminous by contact with the Purusha or nearness to Purusha. The light of the Purusha is reflected on the mind, just as the reflection of sun is thrown in water. From the experiences: 'I am hungry, I am powerful, I am afraid, I am dull,' you can very well understand that mind has no self-luminosity. Purusha alone is self-luminous. Mind shines in borrowed light from the Purusha. This is explained in Sutra IV-22.

6. Mind Does One Thing at a Time

It is impossible for the mind to cognise two things at one time.


It would be impossible for any one to be conscious of both the mind and the object cognised by it at the same time. If the mind is self-luminous, it will be able to cognise two things at a time. If it hears something, it cannot see another thing. But the Purusha can cognise all at one and the same time. Therefore, the Purusha is self-luminous. He is Sarvajna (all-knowing).

A spark of light presents the appearance of a continuous circle of light if it is made to rotate rapidly. Even so, the mind, though it can attend to one thing at a time, either hearing, seeing or smelling, though it can admit one kind of sensation at a time, yet we are led to believe that it does several actions at a time, because, it moves from one object to another with tremendous velocity, so rapidly, that its successive attention and perception appear as a simultaneous activity.

Perception through the finite mind or cognition or experience takes place serially, and not simultaneously. Simultaneous knowledge can only be had in Nirvikalpa Samadhi where past and future are blended into the present. A Yogi only will have simultaneous knowledge. A man of the world with a finite mind can have knowledge in succession only. Though several objects may come in contact simultaneously with the different sense organs, yet the mind acts like a gate-keeper, who can admit only one person at a time in the gate. The mind can send only one kind of sensation at a time to the mental factory inside for the manufacture of a decent percept and nice concept.

7. Cognition by One MindIf cognition is postulated by another mind, there would be too many cognisers to know and the result will be confusion of memory.


If you assume that there is another mind which cognises this mind, then there must be another mind to cognise that one mind and so on, ad infinitum. There will be no end to such minds. The defect of regressus ad infinitum or Anavastha Dosha will crop up. Further there will be confusion of memory. The world's process will not go on smoothly. Under these circumstances, therefore, we are sure that there does exist the Lord of the mind, the Purusha, the witness of the mind.

8. Mind Shines by Borrowed Light

Consciousness becomes conscious by taking the form of unchangeable.


When the reflection of Chaitanya falls on the mind, the mind also shines under borrowed light from the Purusha. This deluded mind thinks foolishly that it is itself Purusha. This is Ajnana, the root cause for human sufferings. The mind is magnetised by the Purusha. The mind borrows its light and power from the unchangeable Purusha.

9. Mind Understands Everything

The mind, being coloured by the Seer and the seen, understands everything.


Just as the transparent crystal and the red flower that is placed in close contact with it, appear as one and the same, just as the iron rod that is placed in fire appears as fire (Tadatmya Sambhanda), just as water when mixed with milk appears as milk, so also, the mind and Purusha appear as one (as Abheda). The mind is under double influence. It is affected by the objects outside and it takes the form of those objects. It is influenced by the Purusha and is rendered capable of cognising. Therefore, the mind acquires all knowledge of object. It gets the understanding power by the influence of Purusha.

10. Transformation of Mind

By these transformations of property (form), character (time), and condition in the elements (matter) and Indriyas (organs) are explained.


Antahkarana is Dharmi. It has three Dharmas viz., Vyuttana, Nirodha and Ekagrata. When one Dharma is operating, the other one has passed and the third one is yet to come. With reference to the Antahkarana, the Dharma that operates at the present moment is Dharma Parinama. With reference to what has passed and to that which is yet to come, it is Lakshana Parinama. If the present Dharma increases or decreases, it is Avastha Parinama. Thus the three kinds of Parinama occur in the Bhutas and Indriyas also. The mind assumes various forms. This is one kind of Parinama with reference to form. When the change becomes manifest in relation to some time, past, present or future, it is called Lakshana Parinama. When after this the particular property ripens into maturity or decay, it is called Avastha Parinama. The mind passes into various states. It is also Avastha Parinama.

11. Dharmi Explained

The substratum is that which is common to the latent, rising and indescribable.


'Avyapadesya' means subtle or hidden; hence indescribable. The properties which have once manifested and passed into a calm state are 'Santa.' They have played their part well. They will manifest at a future date. Those that are operating at the present moment are 'active.'
12. Changes in Dharmas

The succession of changes (in Dharmas and Dharmi) is the cause for the distinctness of modifications.


The modifications of lust, pleasure, pain and Pramanas are Pratyaksha. Samadhi state, Nirodha, Vasanas, the connections between the Cheshtas of body and mind, the power of objects, Punya-apunya Dharmas, certain other modifications of the mind are Paroksha only.

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